George Carlin (May 12, 1937 – June 22, 2008) is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential stand-up comedians: One newspaper called Carlin "the dean of counterculture comedians." In 2004, Carlin was placed second on the Comedy Central list of "Top 10 Comedians of US Audiences" compiled for an April 2004 special. From the late 1980s, Carlin's routines focused on sociocultural criticism of American society. He often commented on contemporary political issues in the United States and satirized the excesses of American culture. His final HBO special, It's Bad for Ya, was filmed less than four months before his death. In 2008, he was posthumously awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.